Meet SGA presidential candidate Sarah Shield

Sarah Shield is running for Student Government Association president. The election will take place March 8, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on myBama. 

Zach Johnson | @ZachJohnsonCW, News Editor

Q: How did you get involved with the SGA?

A: So I was a member of the judicial board my sophomore year and then half of this year. I actually made the decision to resign in November, which was due to a combination of issues — most of which was SGA not following their own rules — but I was a member of SGA for two years.

Q: What made you decide to run for president?

A: Yeah, so I think that in my time since I’ve been here, it’s kind of been just unopposed elections for the most part. There haven’t been many choices for the students, and I think that there’s also kind of been this internal pipeline from a vice president position to the presidential spot, which, in my opinion, hasn’t been very effective in creating long-lasting change on campus. And so I really think it’s kind of time for a change to give someone else the opportunity to step into SGA and bring some new ideas and bring a fresh perspective and hopefully kind of bring in some of the groups on campus that have kind of been uninterested in SGA in general.

Q: What are your thoughts on the election being uncontested in recent years?

A: I think that there’s a general perception on campus that the one organization running candidates is going to win. And so I think that there’s a huge kind of barrier for candidates to consider when stepping into a race, because there’s this voting bloc on campus that you have to go against inevitably if you just had to put your name into the race. I think that the campus hasn’t necessarily done all they can to kind of ensure a super fair and transparent election process. And so just for other people to decide to run, I think is a super big decision to make when you’re up against something that historically has been so successful on this campus.

Q: What makes you the best choice for this position?

A: So I think that, like I said, I think it’s time for a fresh perspective in SGA. Although I was a member of the judicial board, I think I kind of bring this outside perspective when it comes to transparency and accountability within SGA. I resigned from the judicial board because I really felt that the Student Government Association in general wasn’t following through on their duties. And after that, I did a lot of work to hold SGA accountable. I’ve filed three appeals up to this point in terms of things that SGA exec hasn’t done according to the constitution, or created laws they weren’t supposed to do. And I think this kind of work that I’ve done on the outside to hold SGA accountable could really be continued from the inside in a more effective way. I think that I’ve kind of shown that I’m committed to the entire student body and working those angles and working to kind of ensure that students are represented in the way that they’re supposed to be. And I think that I could do that work at a better level from the position of president.

Q: What is the biggest problem you see on campus right now?

A: So I think the biggest problem on campus is the lack of diversity and inclusivity. And I think that comes to light especially through the lack of diversity and representation with SGA. And I think it kind of then trickles down into some of the platform points that I’ve kind of expressed. You know, mental health is one of my kind of passion areas on campus, and I think that one of the reasons why it’s not kind of this open conversation that it could be is that the general student body is just not open to the conversations, and I think that stems from kind of the representation they’re seeing. And so I really think if we kind of tackle the main issue of creating a Student Government Association that is diverse and representative of the student body as well as kind of open to ideas of everyone across campus. Then we can truly tackle the issues that are kind of talked about within athletics and parking and mental health, because we’ll bring in these ideas from people across campus and truly kind of allow the student government to do what I think it was supposed to do, which is collect the best ideas on campus and truly work across the entire student body to get those done.

Q: How do you plan to increase transparency in the SGA?

A: So it’s a huge platform point of mine that has kind of expanded recently. I think the most important thing we can do to increase transparency is increase access to SGA. One of the things I’ve noticed kind of in participating in SGA and filing these appeals is that student journalism access that I share has been really restricted. I think it’s kind of embarrassing the little amount the current exec has spoken to organizations like yours, The CW. I think that we can only become the best version of SGA when we allow everyone to access what’s going on. So that’s one of my big things is kind of just increasing access. So that’ll happen through creating public meetings of the Executive Council. I don’t think anything we should do should be behind closed doors. Currently, the meeting minutes of executive council meetings are supposed to be published on the SGA website, which doesn’t happen. So I think we need to create these to be open. I think we need to allow anyone who wants to come to see them. I think we also need to kind of create a public forum for the Executive Council to truly inform students of what they’re being paid to do for both semesters at a time and what they’re actually working on in the office. And then trickling down, I think other SGA members need to be held accountable as well. So I see that coming to fruition through public office hours. I think every SGA member who’s paid needs to publish on the SGA website when they’ll be in the office to take student concerns. I also think that senators, they’re currently required to do three office hours in the SGA office and I think that one of those needs to be a standing day and time every week so that students can access them. Currently, you have no idea who’s in the office, and kind of which representative you could even talk to, so I think we need to change that. I think we also in general just need to increase the amount of people who are involved in SGA and kind of increase the populations who are involved. I think certain groups on campus such as transfer students really never get an opportunity to be involved in SGA. And I think we need to work to fix that. Which, I mean, all ties back to the general problem of I think students on campus are so disinterested in SGA, which I think is because they, one, don’t understand the power that SGA has, and two, they feel like they can never have a voice in it simply because it’s belonged to a certain group of individuals for so long. So to address that, I really think we need to, one, to inform students of what’s going on, which will happen through open forums and meeting minutes being posted, and then, two, just create lots of opportunities for them to get in and speak to executive officials.

Q: What’s your No. 1 goal in this position?

A: I think my No. 1 goal is to make SGA president a more defined and approachable role. And with that, I mean, I want students to understand what I would be doing if I was elected. And I want them to feel like they could come to me with problems that they have and that their ideas matter in terms of what happens on campus. I think that SGA president for so long has kind of been this elusive title that you’re given and then no one really knows what happens to it. You kind of just end up in this office and who knows what you’re working on. And I really think that, I’m not, I’m not doing this for a resume. I’m not doing this because it’s always been my dream. I just think it’s time for a change. And I think it’s time for us to kind of return SGA to the students. I think it’s kind of been taken away in the past and I would like to see it kind of return to them.

Q: What’s one last thing you want voters to know about you?

A: I think the last thing I want people to know is again, I’m not doing this for my resume. I’m not doing this to make a name for myself on campus. I don’t care about the title of president. I simply think that SGA president is a position that could do a lot of good for students on campus and I think that someone filling this role who isn’t doing it for any purpose other than trying to make campus a better place and trying to do it for the students is the right way to go. And that’s what I’m doing. I, again, I don’t want this on my resume. That’s not why I’m doing it. I just think it’s time for a change on campus. And I think that my team can bring that change into fruition.